Monday, May 29, 2006

south central farmers feeding families

mini documentary on south central farmers

i'm always a little intrigued when i hear stories about julia butterfly hill sitting up in trees to raise awareness. probably because i'm afraid of heights. anyway, she's back at it along with joan baez. they're trying to save a 14-acre urban garden in L.A. (or hell.A. as it's referred to around our home). this land consists of 360 plots and is used by low income families in the area to grow fresh food. there is a great story with this land and these folks have worked hard to have this privilege. unfortunately, the developer (who bought this land for about 5 million and wants to sell it for 3 times that much) is planning on destroying the garden and putting up a warehouse. the farmers have raised about 6 million dollars so far. not enough.

the farm families only have a few days left before they may have to say goodbye to their land. my heart goes out to them even though they live on the other side of our nation. i'd like to encourage folks to give a call to the mayor's office-if anything to let them know that the farmers have sympathizers around the nation. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (213) 978-0600.

urban gardens can be important fixtures of a large city, especially in community building and for helping to feed children and families in low income communities. fresh food is just healthier than a 2.99 big mac meal deal.

thanks for reading this post. i don't usually get hyped about much, but it pumps me up that the south central farmers have such a strong desire to eat closer to home and have fought for that right. i don't have to fight for that right.

link: south central farmers story

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Teens are Bugs, Apparently

I heard this on NPR recently. A shopkeeker in the UK was afraid or annoyed about some young people spending time outside of his store. An inventor applied a high-pitch frequency to the situation, one that would repel the teenagers, but that adults cannot hear. This worked. (The next part of the story is that the teens used this sound as a ringtone and can now call each other during class. Nice work, kids.)
The story was supposed to be one of those feel-good what will they think of next? sort of interviews. Melissa Block was friendly and appropriately interested in the science of the thing (since NPR listeners are predominantly nerds), and the inventor was appropriately proud of his solution to this pest problem. There were no questions about what else this technology could be used for, no consideration about where teens are supposed to go when all shopkeepers decide to electronically alienate this age group. The inventor did not reveal plans to figure out other frequencies for other people groups.
Maybe sadder still, later in the interview, the inventor's teenage daughter explains the bit about the cell phones. She and her father seemed to get along fairly well. This man may not have considered that the day could come when his daughter would be forced from a space against her will by his device. I guess the listener to this story is not supposed to ask about the application of such technology. We are supposed to rejoice that it exists and that our lives will continue to improve.

Monday, May 22, 2006

MTR event at UK

Kentucky Authors Mountain Witness Tour Event - 6/1

Thursday, June 1st 7pm
UK Classroom Building room 118

Kentucky Authors from previous Mountain Witness tours
including Wendell Berry, Bobbie Ann Mason, Erik Reece,
and George Ella Lyon will speak about their
experiences in Eastern KY.

This will conclude the third Kentucky Authors Mountain
Witness Tour sponsored by KFTC which brings Kentucky
Authors to Eastern Kentucky to see the devastation of
Mountaintop Removal first-hand.

Book signing included.

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC)
and the UK English Department
(additional co-sponsoring organizations welcome)

Dave Newton (859)420-8919
Jerry Hardt (606)886-8375

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

PAPAFEST coming soon

just over a month till PAPAFEST
see the festival web site here

very exciting to see this event take shape and it will be a brilliant opportunity to gather with companions on the journey toward the Kingdom in this North American context.

if you want to go you should follow the link and register. it's free!

June 23-25, 2006
The People Against Poverty and Apathy Festival will be a convergence of communities and movements coming together to share, dream, and create. Several hundred folks from across the country will be camping out in the hills of TN in a little village of subversive friendships to conspire together in learning workshops, roundtable talks, over campfires, and on hikes through the woods.

An ordinary urban scene.....a hidden heavenly meaning

In the nearly ten years I have spent with folks on the streets and in the alleyways and byways of Lexington, I have seen a very broad spectrum of dark and joyous moments. However, few scenes that I've ever witnessed do more in paradoxically uniting the dark and the joyous elements than the one that I found when I arrived at the High Street House several days ago. As you will see in the picture that I've attached, the scene that I found was of an empty bottle of mouthwash lying right next to a large pile of bean-flecked vomit, which in turn was lying at the base of the wooden-cross located on the front porch. On the previous night I had been working at the house quite late and found a man lying on the porch, who jumped up shaking, begging me not to call the police. I told him that I wasn't going to call the police and tried to encourage him, telling him that it was alright if he layed there for a while as long as he tried to respect the property. Obviously, this was an ill-advised and moderately hopeless thing to say, and I knew that it was. So, when I arrived the next morning to find the remnants of the late night drama I was not surprised. However, I was blown away by the symbolism of these strangely congruous elements; the innards of a flesh & blood human being, slowly being rotted away by mouthwash, lying at the base of the cross. There is something profoundly wrong about this picture to be sure; but it is the something that is profoundly right about the picture that we often struggle to comprehend. I'm not going to say much beyond observing that I've hardly ever witnesed something that more forcefully brings to life Paul's words in Acts 17 when he says "he is not far from each one of us." Grace is everywhere........hope is the air that we breath.......

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

more wise words from thomas merton

as we prepare for pentecost...

"if we want to be spiritual, then, let us first of all live our lives. let us not fear the responsibilities and the inevitable distractions of the work appointed for us by the will of God. let us embrace reality and thus find ourselves immersed in the life-giving will and wisdom of God which surrounds us everywhere."

another book: William Jennings Bryan

thanks to Jen for the book link below.
on this day of the primary election i too have a tip for those interested in North American politics.
follow this link to listen to a 5 minute review at NPR of a new book about William Jennings Bryan. it is a short book review but i found it immensly provocative and it has inspired to me to add the book to my reading list (another one to dip into).

Monday, May 15, 2006

use your vote

tomorrow we vote!
if you are eligible PLEASE make the effort to participate in this process. as a community we are committed to the common good - to the shalom of our city (remember Jer. 29?). there are many ways to seek the welfare of lexington...the jury might still be out about the efficacy of the political route but whatever we think about it there seems to be little doubt that local politics matters.
here's a friendly reminder from Dave at KFTC.


KFTC Members and Allies,

I wanted to remind everyone that the Primary Election
is TOMORROW (Tuesday, May 16th) and polls are open
from 6am to 6pm everywhere in Kentucky.

If you live in Lexington, you can visit the KFTC
Lexington Election website to find out much more about
who's running and where they stand on important issues

No matter where you live, take a moment to educate
yourself on the candidates and VOTE on Tuesday because
a small number of votes can make a BIG difference!

The voter turnout for the 2004 primary in Fayette
County, for example was only 14%, so a few voices can
really make an impact!

Friday, May 12, 2006

fun new book

while listening to npr the other night, i heard an interview with michelle goldberg. she is the author of a new book, out in june, called: kingdom coming: the rise of christian nationalism.
the interview with the author is very interesting and her findings on the current state of church and politics in america are a little scary.
in light of tuesday's local elections, it's helped me remember how important it is to vote for leaders who seek justice and who are a voice for those without one.

a few books i didn't read

one of my perennial frustrations is feeling like i don't read enough. as my household will regretfully confirm i have piles of library books around the place. most come to our home, perch on various surfaces around the bedroom, living room, and kitchen, then after a few weeks of this shuffling return to the library unread. some of the books i manage to 'dip in to' which means i read the first couple of chapters and usually the last chapter. very few of them i read right through and most i barely get past the table of contents.

so, i guess this is a confession post and a desperate attempt to make something of my addiction. here are a few books i have 'dipped in to' in recent weeks...perhaps you will want to read the whole book.

Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage by Heather Rogers i picked this book up because of an interesting conversation i had with my father in law. we were lamenting the loads of trash we had generated at our family reunion and wondered where all our bags of refuse ended up. this book has some fascinating things to say about the history of trash and argues that trash that fills the land (land fills!) became a required part of our lives as the consumer society ramped up late in the 20th century. one horrifying fact the book raises is that massive land fills generate untold amounts of poisonous gas and toxic liquid that wafts and seeps into our air, soil and water. it gets worse. the companies that we pay to take care of our trash only accept liability for damage caused to the environment for 30-40 years. after that (and coincidentally much of the toxic waste from these land fills won't do its worst damage until it's been there 50+ years) no one will be on the hook for cleaning up the mess. and another scary fact, the large 'sealed' land fill sacks that the trash is buried in only have warranties to around 40 years so no-one is sure what we'll do next with all that rubbish. it reminds me of a line from wendell berry who was pondering the way we talk about throwing things away. he reminds us that because we all live on one planet together, there really is no away. trash is a problem that won't go away.

Exploring Reality : The Intertwining of Science and Religion by John Polkinghorne (2005)this book i picked up last week because i felt like i needed to think some more about the holy spirit with pentecost coming soon - or perhaps i thought i might need to feel more about the holy spirit. either way, i needed something about the holy spirit. the essay/chapter i found most helpful was called "Divine Reality: the Trinity." as a physicist and anglican priest polkinghorne writes beautifully about the mystery of the divine community by weaving string theory and the writings of dead theologians. it helped.

Meeting the expectations of the land : essays in sustainable agriculture and stewardship / edited by Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry [and] Bruce Colman. (1984)this one is part of a large pile of books about agrarianism - the philosophy and practice of sustainable agriculture. i'm trying to read bits and pieces to learn how we can, as an urban community, support this movement. one of the chief voices in new agrarianism is wendell berry and his influence in this part of the world can't be overstated. his chapter in this book was a great help as i was thinking about the way contextualized, missional leadership can be informed by the model of a wise farmer.
"the good farmer, like and artist, performs within a pattern; he must do one thing while remembering many others. He must be thoughtful of relationships and connections, always aware of the reciprocity of dependence and influence between part and whole. His work may be physical, but its integrity is made by thought....The good farmer's mind, as i understand it, is in a certain critical sense beyond the reach of textbooks and expert advice. Textbooks and expert advice, that is, can be useful to this mind, but only by means of a translation - difficult but possible, which only this mind can make - from the abstract to the particular" (p.28)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

democracy in our town

it's that time...primary elections coming up. this message from our friend Dave at the KFTC.

For those of you who are registered to vote in Lexington, We have now officially launched our Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) Lexington Election website that can be reached at or

The Election is just a short way away on Tuesday, May16th, so it's time to do some research and find outwhere candidates stand on the issues. This is a crucial election for such issues as local ownership of water, living wage, etc. and a small number of votes can make a BIG difference!

The voter turnout for the 2004 primary in Fayette County, for example was only 14%, so a few voices can really make an impact! Please visit our website and get it out to as many other Fayette Countians as possible. Send it to friends, email listservs, and blogs so that everyone can make an educated vote on May 16th. Again, that website address is

Visit often, as it will continually be updated between now and May 16th as candidates send information to us. Also, KFTC is having phone backs, mass-postcard mailings, door-to-door events, etc. between now and the election so I hope you decide to get involved.
- Dave Newton
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Friday, May 05, 2006

brad flowers: new-media star

not only is our resident man-of-letters a lovely gentleman, he is also a burgeoning local radio star. he has been working very hard with several others planning for the Bike Lexington event on May 20th.

click on
this link to see the WRFL blog and follow the link at the bottom of the post to hear the podcast of his interview.

check out this site for all the details about Bike Lexington

Wednesday, May 03, 2006